Monday, June 6, 2011

Pondering a Third... and Fourth Bicycle

Just when I thought two was enough, I cannot help but think about more bicycles. I often wonder what is wrong with me. The two bicycles I have are great. Tony Stark (the Sam Hillborne) is a perfect long-distance ride. He's excellent, and in fact, built for touring. When we built him up last summer about this time, I wanted to be able to use him for shorter distances and longer rides, so he was outfitted with front and rear racks, and a larger-sized saddle bag. The Poppy has been ideal for in-town rides and has shown that she is reliable and easy to ride (sans the recent braking incident, which truly isn't her fault). She's not the best choice for longer distance rides, but that isn't what she was made to do either.
Recent talks have me pondering the idea of mountain biking. Unfortunately, neither of these bicycles are particularly built for this task. The problem has been deciding whether or not I can overcome my fear of falling on giant rocks whilst mountain biking, and thus the decision of whether or not to purchase a third bicycle seems to be difficult. Call me a wimp, but while I'm not afraid of the hard work to get up the hills, the idea of tumbling down the mountain side doesn't particularly appeal to me. I already have a sometimes overwhelming fear of falling, so the idea that this could/would likely happen repeatedly on a mountain bike doesn't terribly excite me.

What does excite me is the accomplishment I would feel by overcoming a fear, and that it would be a type of riding Sam and I could do more often together (since this is his preferred cycling type). Plus, we live in the Rocky Mountains for goodness sake - shouldn't I be taking advantage of this?
Our best thoughts have centered around a Craigslist find. They aren't always easy in the summer time, but we thought that perhaps a several year old mountain bike could be the way to figure out whether or not I would actually do this type of cycling while not spending a small fortune on a new bicycle. We've seen several on CL for under $100 (some under $70), which seems the most likely choice. The irony in it all is that when I was actually riding a mountain bike several years ago, I never once considered taking it into the mountains. Go figure?

The fourth bicycle is one that I am simply obsessing over (and have for the last couple of years) and really have no reason to purchase other than "I want it," which is really no reason at all when one gets down to it. When we bought the Hillborne frame, I intended to use it for long distance rides but I'd like to slim him down for these rides (remove fenders, racks, excess bags, etc). Because of all the "stuff" I have added a good extra 10 lbs to him (sometimes more, depending on what I carry), which is unnecessary for the type of riding for which he's typically being used. Plus, it's added weight that definitely slows down the ride.  On one hand I think "get stronger," or "pedal harder," but on the other, I think a lighter ride would certainly assist in making longer rides more attainable. Somehow in my warped brain, I have convinced myself that the solution is to obtain a Betty Foy.
*Image from Rivendell
Any "extra" parts that could be removed from the Hillborne could be used on the B.F. (the fenders, racks, bag), which would eliminate some of the cost involved. I also have an extra set of Schwalbe tires in the right size, so that's yet another piece of the puzzle, and goodness knows there are always spare parts lying about this house for bicycles. Plus, we have an upcoming trip to California to visit family... I'm sure we could just make a (very out of the way) stop off to visit the good folks at Riv, right? I see the Betty as a bike that would be used for longer distance rides, but not necessarily for the super-long distance rides I'd make on the Hillborne.

While both of these bicycles are merely thoughts at the moment, it's fun to dream. Who knows? One (or even both) bicycles could find there way into the bicycle fold. Justifying the costs (or even coming up with the dough) can/will be the biggest challenge of all! The mental struggle to actually purchase the Hillborne was a huge deal. Other sacrifices get made to allow for such an expense, and I have to wonder if doing that again is worth it.


  1. But the Betty Foy is just a Hillborne with a mixte/step-over frame. Rivendell even says what you can do with one, you can do with the other. Why two such similar bikes?

  2. Hi Cecily... First, let me say that in reality, I will likely never purchase the Betty Foy. The largest reason being that I simply cannot justify having two bicycles that are so costly (though I am still hoping for a lottery win). :o)

    That said, while you are quite right in saying that they can be used for similar purposes, I would not use them for the same type of tasks (which is yet another reason that it would be excess and unnecessary). I suspect, however, that the two do ride a bit differently because of their minor geometry differences, as well as having a different set up on the BF as far as handlebars, etc. Even having the head tube higher up will have to make some difference.

    In all honesty, I think it would satisfy my curiosity to simply ride the Betty to be able to see and feel the differences, which is why I find myself wanting to pay a visit to their shop while on vacation to see for myself. I think a ride would put that curiosity to bed and I would simply move on with life.

    Never fear though... an impulse buy is not on the horizon.

    I know you've considered buying a Betty. Have you had an opportunity to ride one? If so, did it feel more upright because of the higher head tube? I know it's difficult for many of us to find a location to test ride because even if there is a dealer semi-close by, they often don't have the size or model we're looking for.

  3. I always felt like they were very similar bikes, besides being able to "step in" easier, without the diamond frame. It might actually be useful, since the Rivendell geometry seems to be based in place where the average height is 6'6! Take that with a grain of salt, coming from the original Hobbit.

  4. They are indeed similar bicycles... as you said though, since we are on the shorter side, had I thought things through a bit more instead of obsessing over having a diamond frame bicycle, I may have went after the Betty instead. The Hillborne definitely borders being un-ridable for me because of how large even the smallest one is. I suppose it can always be remedied though. :o)

  5. I have three bikes. When I got my first bike a few years ago I didn't totally know what I needed or what I would like. I wasn't convinced that I'd commit to bike commuting but here I am, two bikes later. I plan to go down to two bike, selling two of the ones I have and upgrading to a Workcycles Oma. It's a space thing really. If we end up moving to a significantly smaller place I may just go down to one bike, possibly a Brompton. If I had the desire to take up mountain biking and touring, I could see owning one of each type but for now, I just need a folder for travel and a city bike for commuting. Good luck w/ your decision making.

  6. Space can definitely be a determining factor in the number of bicycles - beyond just the actual monetary costs. When we recently moved, we decided to pare down the number of bikes in the house (which is partially why I hesitate to start acquiring more again). It would take quite a bit though to catch up to our neighbors, who recently informed us that they have 12 bikes between the two adults in their home. I can't help but wonder how one finds the time to ride so many bicycles? It's nice to see so much bike love around though. :o)

  7. I can understand buying a mountain bike for mountain biking, but the Sam Hilbourne is supposed to be an all-rounder type bike. Frankly, is sounds ridiculous to buy another expensive similar bicycle so that you can use the Sam for long distance riding. Take off the racks and bags for recreational riding and put them back on for daily commuting. That's what I do. I have a modern mixte and an old Raleigh sports and I feel guilty and wasteful even though I ride to work every day. I feel like I don't have enough time to ride both my bikes and bikes are ment to be ridden. How much do you ride the bikes you have? The only way you will be able to do these perspective long distance rides is by building up endurance by riding.

  8. Well, i can understand the situation as I am an "insider", and the drive for the possibility of the Betty Foy is not strictly based on "want", but the possibility of easier riding, better positioning, etc. Discomfort in riding position cannot be remedied by "building endurance", often times this stems from injuries.

    I don't think either of us want more than 1 bike to do the job, or have bikes that don't get ridden, but when it really comes down to it, who cares? Have as many bikes as you like, even if you just want to look at them, or collect them.

    If we were talking about internal combustion automobiles, i would think different, and be a bit pissed. However, we are talking about transportation that has very little carbon footprint. I would rather have 20 bikes, and 0 cars if it were possible.

    Furthermore, i think we are on the low-end around here, most people seem to have a High end $3500+ road bike, and mountain bike to match, that they parade on top of their Subaru.

    Bottom line, i back G.E. Get as many bikes as you like, cheap or expensive, just ride.

  9. I've never had an opportunity to ride one. I want it mostly because it's similar to the Hilborne but with a frame style that's easier for me to mount (my bad knee makes diamond frames problematic). I originally wanted to build her up as a city bike, but now I think I want a Betty as a randonneur with drop bars.

  10. I hear you. It's always a challenge to buy a bicycle that we can't ride first. It was somewhat beneficial that we built the Hillborne up ourselves, allowing us to choose the components... however, I think that option also left for quite a bit of trial and error (something we are still experimenting with a year later).

    If we do end up on a test ride at Riv, I will definitely report back any findings (though I do realize a ride is somewhat subjective and different for every person). I look forward to the day you get yours and I can hear/read all about it. :o)


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